Europe

European governments seem not to be acting in any way as defenders of democratic rights of its citizens, those they are supposed to represent. While they object to mass surveillance of their communications by the NSA, they work with the NSA to spy on global Internet traffic and create for themselves the surveillance infrastructure of police states in Europe. French, Spanish, Swedish, Dutch and German intelligence services are cooperating in a pan-European surveillance system similar to the NSA’s global spying network. These agencies carry out direct taps into fibre-optic cables and the development of covert relationships with national telecommunications companies, just like the NSA has developed with Google or Facebook. At the centre of the spying network in Europe is the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

La France, précieux partenaire de l'espionnage de la NSA: The Directorate General of External Security (DGSE) maintains close relations with the NSA and the GCHQ, following discussions on enhanced cooperation that began in November 2006. In the early 2010s, the extent of cooperation in the joint interception of digital data by the DGSE and the NSA increased dramatically.

In 2011, the DGSE and the NSA signed a formal memorandum for data exchange, which facilitated the transfer of millions of DGSE metadata to the NSA. From December 2012 to January 8, 2013, more than 70 million metadata were delivered to the NSA by French intelligence agencies.

The two Dutch secret services, which were both created during a major reorganisation in 2002, are:

  • General Intelligence and Security Service (Dutch: Algemene Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst, or AIVD), which falls under the Interior Ministry and is mainly responsible for domestic security issues, but also has a small branch that gathers intelligence information from and about foreign countries. In 2015, AIVD had over 1300 employees and a budget of 213 million euros.
  • Military Intelligence and Security Service (Dutch: Militaire Inlichtingen- en Veiligheidsdienst, or MIVD), which falls under the Defence Ministry and is mainly responsible for military intelligence related to military operations and peacekeeping missions overseas. They also have to provide security for the armed forces. In 2015, MIVD had over 800 employees and a budget of approximately 85 million euros.

There is no institutional separation between domestic security and foreign intelligence. The two secret services combine both tasks.

The Netherlands has no separate signals intelligence agency, but in 2014, the Joint Sigint Cyber Unit (JSCU) was created as a joint venture of AIVD and MIVD. The interception station for satellite traffic is located in Burum (Kollumerland c.a. municipality) in the province of Friesland. It became fully operational in 2006. A second JSCU intercept station is located on the military base Kamp Holterhoek in Eibergen in the Achterhoek region. The 898th signal battalion, stationed at Eibergen, has been intercepting radio traffic from the former Eastern Bloc countries since 1967.

What makes Dutch intelligence interesting for NSA is not so much their spying on neighbours, but their spying overseas: data collected during military missions in Afghanistan and Mali, during navy missions around the Horn of Africa, data collected by the quiet Dutch submarines, and radio traffic from the Middle East intercepted at Eibergen.

The NSA seems to have collected huge amounts of information on Dutch phone calls and other communications. In December 2012 alone, 1.8 million. But it wasn't the NSA, it was the Dutch security services that had collected the information and handed it over to the Americans, and it wasn't information, it was “just” meta data. And it wasn't meta data from Dutch citizens, but meta data on communications from people in war zones intercepted by Dutch signal intelligence.

But it's not as if spying on the Dutch themselves is not happening. The Netherlands has been on the NSA list for “targeting, collecting, or processing” of its communications since 1946. As for “collaboration”: The Dutch security services AIVD and MIVD do whatever the US security service NSA tells them, according to whistleblower Edward Snowden in an interview with the Volkskrant.

A true Spy vs Spy story because in May 2015, Deutsche Telekom tapped internet connections in Austria and the Netherlands on the NSA’s behalf. Apparently the listening-in included internet connections running from Amsterdam to Luxemburg and the massive De-Cix internet hub in Frankfurt.

In Norway, apparently a similar story unfolded as to what happened in the Netherlands in 2012. The Dagbladet reported in November that “USA overvåket 33 millioner norske mobilsamtaler” (USA looked at 33 million Norwegian mobile calls). Then Norway's intelligence services said they, not the NSA, collected data on more than 33 million phone conversations in Norway over the space of one month in 2012. “This is data collection by Norwegian intelligence to support Norwegian military operations in conflict areas abroad, or connected to the fight against terrorism, also abroad”.

Then, in 2014, the Norwegian military intelligence service (NIS) owned up to in Afghanistan alone, collecting 33 million registrations from telecommunication during those 30 days around Christmas 2012. They also listen to satellites and radio communication in their own region via the listening post in Vardø, close to the Russian-Norwegian border at the top of Europe. Huge amounts of data. O dear, o dear, the Norwegian Inteligence Service (NIS) is nauseous from the unmanageable amounts of data. This is partly the reason why NSA now purchases a supercomputer. It´s codenamed Steelwinter and is part of a 100 million dollar investment program. The supercomputer will crack heavy cryptology and analyse the vast amounts of data NIS collects.

The German story is even more hilarious. Not only was the NSA spying on Angela Merkel, according to Wikileaks this had been happening for decades, and apparently the NSA was also spying on Der Spiegel and politicians, AND may have had help from the BND, their own foreign intelligence arm — aiding US agents with snooping on hundreds of European companies, regional entities and politicians. And that is not where the irony stops. Efforts to spy on friends and allies were more extensive than previously reported. Apparently the BND monitored European and American government ministries and the Vatican.

And with what spy software were the Americans spied on by the Germans? NSA’s top spy software. How did they pay for that? With their citizens’ metadata. My IronyGuard crumbled and collapsed when reading that. ROFL.

Belgium isn't in the fourteen eyes for nothing. And that's a secret. We need to distract (and keep entertaining) our citizens. It's facebook, of course.

It's 2013, and documents from the archive of whistleblower Edward Snowden indicate that Britain's GCHQ intelligence service was behind a cyber attack against Belgacom, a partly state-owned Belgian telecoms company. A “top secret” GCHQ presentation indicates that the goal of project, conducted under the codename “Operation Socialist,” was “to enable better exploitation of Belgacom” and to improve understanding of the provider's infrastructure. The NSA infected 50,000 computer networks with malicious software. The NSA computer attacks are performed by a special department called TAO (Tailored Access Operations).

In 2013, a leak shows the NSA conducted snooping in Italy via two Special Collection Service (SCS) sites: one in Milan and one in Rome (staffed with agents). Only Italy and Germany had two SCS sites working simultaneously, according to the leak. The NSA partners with the CIA in the SCS construct in which NSA employees under diplomatic covert conduct SIGINT collection.

A document from Cryptome: The Special Collection Service is a joint CIA-NSA surreptitious entry agency which breaks into targeted facilities to steal secret information. Note that the SCS locations are very similar to those of NSA's X-Keyscore servers.

All up in arms about that? Also in 2013, Italy’s spy watchdog COPASIR learned details of large-scale monitoring of Italians by the US intelligence agency NSA, a monitoring network that started years ago (1988) and is still active, of which the Italian government and spy agencies might have been well aware of. Might have been well aware of? They're fR%$%$%# part of the fourteen eyes!

The Italian ‘Banksy’ exposes ‘masterminds of spying’ in a street art campaign:


It is 2013 and the El Mundo newspaper reports having seen a NSA document that reveals extent of agency's monitoring of Spanish phone calls, like 60 million calls a month. As expected, the surveillance of Spanish citizens by the NSA was the product of a collaboration with Spain's intelligence services.

The GCHQ collaborated with the Spanish National Intelligence Centre (CNI), carrying out mass surveillance thanks to its ties with an unnamed British telecommunications company, giving them fresh opportunities and uncovering some surprising results. The CNI is in a strategic location to intercept and monitor calls: The Columbus III transatlantic underwater telecommunications cable, connecting Sicily with the state of Florida and passing through Conil in Cádiz, is used by millions of people each day.

In November 2013 the director of the Spanish Intelligence Centre (CNI) appeared behind closed doors at the Official Secrets Commission. His appearance was agreed to after the media revealed that Spain was a ‘second degree’ ally to the US, and that the CNI had allowed or helped the US tap into 60 million phone calls between December 2012 and January 2013 alone. This was denied by the NSA director Keith Alexander, who emphasised that the metadata generated was gathered under NATO collaboration and was related to suspicious activity in third countries (Mali and Afghanistan for instance). The members of parliament who attended the Official Secrets Commission were specifically asked not to reveal the details of the session. Those who briefly spoke to the media expressed satisfaction and mentioned how the CNI director made it clear that Spain had always acted according to the law, that the data of Spanish citizens has not been compromised or made vulnerable by NSA activities and that it was US intelligence that should provide further explanations.

The public debate in Spain seemed to focus more on online privacy and the commercialisation of data. Not surprising in a country riddled by unemployment, the crisis, austerity and corruption. While the inequality and poverty increases, Spain is buying four Reaper surveillance drones. The entire five-year drone program has a budget of €171 million.

Sweden too, is sitting on a pipeline of intelligence 'gold' but supposedly, unlike Germany, its asks for nothing in return. Not buying it. Over the years, Sweden has become the biggest collaborating partner of GCHQ outside the English-speaking countries, and a key member of the fourteen eyes network.

Watching the 2011 RT report “EU 'cyber snoops' sue Sweden for fighting Big Brother” might give you the impression that Sweden has until now, been spared from the global emerging surveillance society, and if you for a moment were thinking about escaping to Sweden in an effort to escaping Big Brother in your own country, I’m sorry to disappoint you.


Although this report is focusing on a later battle Sweden is having with the EU, there are a few failures in this report. The most important failure is that there is no mention of the already existing Swedish FRA law, legitimising a government snooping system, that has been in place since 1st of Januari 2009. Sweden’s surveillance legislation has received widespread criticism, including from the European Parliament, on the grounds that it fails adequately to protect privacy and may violate the European Convention on Human Rights.